Friday, February 27, 2004

Not a lot of knitting progress to report (not nearly enough to merit a picture, anyway), so allow me to switch hats and file a Field Report instead.

TeenSpeak 2004: An AmyKnits! Public Service
Living with a teenager is a bit like Margaret Mead bunking with the aborigines. It's a whole new world, baby, and you'd better get used to the fact that it's all about them. During periods of relative peace in the household, I like to adopt a clinical stance not unlike Gil Grissom on CSI, and observe the modern urban teen in his native habitat. Here are my latest findings.

It's well known that teenagers have a language all their own. Each generation has their particular buzzwords and catchphrases. Circa 1977, our speech was peppered with phrases like "boss!" (cool, awesome), "later" (see you later), "don't bogart" (don't be selfish) and "let's jet" or "let's book" (let's go). RockStar's gen is no different. Text and instant messaging heavily influence them. Text messaging has created a sort of New Millennium Gregg's Shorthand, with symbols and characters from the keyboard augmenting the standard alphabet (CUL8R "see you later", B4N "bye for now", BRB "be right back", TTYL "talk to you later", etc.).

Their verbal communication is also heavily influenced by text messaging, and is primarily a language called 'lite (leet) -- short for elite. In 'lite speak, if you are "owned" or have been "owned," it means that a person or situation got the best of you in a most spectacular fashion (see 0wnag3 for video examples of ownage). If you've been owned to the ultimate level, you've been "pwned" (poned). You can also add an all-purpose ending to many words. RockStar and his buds use "zor" to round out many of their nouns and verbs: "Dude, checkzor that weird goth chick over there!" or "My cellzor battery is dead." And of course, "Pwnzor!" (which I assume is the third level of owning: Own, pwn, pwnzor -- pwning cubed?) Given the teen penchant for exaggeration, nearly everything is "uber" (German for "super"). Naturally, there's a second level of uber: ubra ("That was an ubra-burrito, dude!")

Of course, your teen may be speaking his or her own regional dialect or complete separate language of TeenSpeak. We'll compare notes and present papers at the annual Parental Confusion Convention this fall.

Living in TeenLand, even the most dedicated and impartial Parental Anthropologist can't help but be influenced by the native species. DH and I find ourselves yelling, "Pwned!" nearly as often as RockStar. Heaven help us as we try to maintain impartiality, but we fear assimilation is eminent. Send replacements from the Home Office, ASAP.

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Tell Us How You Really Feel, Amy
Message to the Woman in the Brand-New Mybatsu Monstrosity SUV with the Sparkly "Princess!" Bumper Sticker and a Cellphone Surgically Implanted In Her Ear: Get off the godd*mn cellphone and watch where you're driving before you cut off the front end of someone else's 14-year old Toyota Corolla. You'll get home in plenty of time to watch your mean-spirited reality shows without taking someone out.

The overwhelming and misplaced sense of entitlement that possesses some people absolutely amazes me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Got a little more done on Cabled Hoodie. The 2nd set of bobbles has been started:

A topic that comes up once in awhile on the knit lists involves the best methods of "choking" your bobbles. Much earnest discussion is generated as knitters share their tips on how to get these little knitted nuggets to "pop" from the surface of your knitting, without any gaps or sags. These little bobbles are almost triangular in shape -- starting out with 5 stitches and ending with 1. But they seem to be properly choked 'n popped, and I'm happy with how they're turning out. A funny side note: as a design major in college, it was hard to keep a straight face during a class on print technology that involved discussing the characteristics of the 4-color printing process, properties and behaviors of printing ink, and the intricacies of "choking and spreading." (oh my!)

Also made another Bernat Boa Eyelash Scarf -- this one in fantastic shades of teal green, seafoam green, cerulean blue, and dusty blue (sorry -- can't help describing colors in terms of how they'd be named in the 64-color Crayola Crayon box):

Ooh, That Smell!
Gib had an entry on Monday about finding a bottle of Coty's Wild Musk Oil at a flea market. Wow -- that brought back many fragrant memories from my high school days (mid to late 70s). Here's a list of "do you remember …" fragrances. I'm sticking to drugstore varieties, as that was the place I shopped. I didn't start using department store fragrances until I was out of high school and could occasionally afford them. But you know what? I still fall back on my old standby, Jovan's Musk for Women, Cologne Concentrate. I consistently get compliments whenever I wear that fragrance. There are asterisks (*) by fragrances I personally wore back in the day:

Sweet Honesty*

Sweet Earth

Heaven Sent


Musk for Women*

Baby Soft*
Fresh Lemon


Gloria Vanderbilt

Old English Lavender

Have a pleasant and fragrant Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Oh Goodie, It's a Hoodie!
Got the sleeves cast on and started this weekend for Cabled Hoodie. I was a bit concerned about the looseness of the cuffs (70 stitches of K2P2 ribbing), until I read further. After 3" of K2P2 ribbing on 70st, the pattern calls for a reduction row of K2, P2tog, reducing the ribbing to 51 stitches. This continues for another inch, and helps the cuff stay folded back onto the sleeve. The reduced ribbing is tighter to the wrist, and is hidden by the folded-back cuff. Mystery solved!

Two! Two! Two Sleeves at Once!

Close-up of Sleeve Underside, Showing 1" of Reduction Ribbing

Mystery Solved: His Name is John
Absolutely loved the last episode of Sex & The City. Most regular viewers identify themselves with one of the 4 main characters. DH says I am definitely Charlotte (I agree). Because of my aforementioned Charlotte-ness, I loved that each of the main characters ended up settled and in love with someone special. And Carrie ended up with Mr. Big! The second-to-last shot of the show focused on screen of Carrie's cellphone, which was ringing with a call from the at-last-revealed-name of Mr. Big. Appropriately enough, Carrie's cellphone was a sparkly bling-bling model totally encrusted with pink Swarovski crystals. Sigh. Wuv, twue wuv.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Hey Man, Beat It -- It's the Fuzz!
I think I might have caught my Blog Sister Marcia's cold via cyber-comments. Darn those pesky little rhino-virii. Head's fuzzy, and so's my knitting:

Bernat Boa -- Lashing Out With Eyelash Yarn

Lion Brand Fun Fur -- Unleash Your Inner Diva

Musings on Being Perfect
My sister and I grew up with vague feelings of anxiety and inferiority over what we perceived as "perfect" girls (now, women). You know the type: perfectly coifed and groomed hair that never went limp in summer humidity. Their Farrah Fawcett shag was always properly fluffed 'n highlighted. Dressed in edgy-yet-not-too-out-there clothes, accessorized just so, pantyhose or tights with nary a run or snag, the right purse, and good quality shoes with no scuffs. No chips in their nail polish; not a hangnail in sight. We would watch these girls (women) in the high school halls (office), breezing by in a cloud of Love's Baby Soft (Chanel No. 5), planning mid-winter ski trips with their sorority sisters. And when on said ski trip, these girls (women) never cracked a sweat. They glowed.

Meanwhile, there's me and sis on the sidelines. You can spot us: We're the ones with bitten fingernails, limp hair, runs in our pantyhose, and scuffed shoes. The wrong belt, paired with last season's handbag, bought on clearance. Mind you, we weren't jealous of these perfect girls (women). We were in silent awe of their ability to pull it together so completely. Hair, nails, accessories, lives. What was their secret? How did they do it?

After many years of trying to crack the code, sis and I gave up. We decided to turn it around and find strength in our fashion dorkiness. Jane coined the name of our species. She said, "Face it, Ame. We're … The Adjusters." In the naming, we took back our power. Yes, that girl running for the #19 bus, tugging on her falling bra strap and already sporting underarm sweat rings in the early morning August heat, is rife with hidden power. Running into the restroom to dab clear nail polish on the run in her tights, hoping it won't ziiiip below her hem, she rises above the fray. Smiling into the bathroom mirror, she sprays on more Aquanet hairspray to combat midafternoon hair droops. Giving a final tug (again) to that damn bra strap, she marches out into the world, imperfect but unbowed. She is … The Adjuster. And she's just as worthy as her more pulled-together sisters. --Dedicated with love to my little sister, my favorite Adjuster in the whole world

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Mea Culpa
Wow. I really meant to post sometime during the long holiday weekend (made longer by taking Friday off), but being set loose from the digital tether of the computer was just too, too nice to break.

I did get a few knitterly things accomplished -- finished nephew's Navy WoolEase Upside Downer, and the back of Cabled Hoodie:

The color is actually more of a navy; looks purpley here, though.

Nice Bobbles, Baybee!

Warning: Lotsa non-knitting content ahead. Reading optional.

Bewitched, Bothered & Bewildered
Well, not bewildered. Actually, I'm crystal clear. Got a lot of thoughts and feelings swirling in the 'ol brain as I prepare the reenter the atmosphere of Planet Thin. I borrowed the phrase from an excellent book I'm reading, Passing for Thin : Losing Half My Weight and Finding My Self by Frances Kuffel. The book is Frances's story of losing literally half her body weight and becoming slender (read:normal) for the first time in her life. I learned of Frances's story via a weight loss blog I read, The Skinny Daily Post (great blog, btw).

Even though a lot of the emotions Frances has written about are quite familiar to me as I continue this weight loss journey, Frances and I differ on a key point. She was always overweight, even as a child. I, however, have been to the dance numerous times; my weight swinging wildly to extremes at both ends of the scale. The highest weights always corresponded to episodes of major depression. In beating back the depression, the will to lose the weight that piled on during said depression always came back. But it gets tiring, people -- mustering the troops for another weight loss battle. I thought I had the problem licked when I underwent gastric bypass surgery in August 1998 and lost almost 120 pounds (yes, it was one helluva depression that preceded that weight gain). The mechanics of a gastric bypass, while not absolute, are pretty hard to defeat.

I had almost two full years of peace and tiny clothes before I got blindsided by life. RockStar's arrival, along with all of his attendant problems, were of paramount and immediate importance, and caused me to lose focus on myself for awhile. This poor kid had so many problems. Diagnosed but untreated ADD. Severe emotional problems. Entering high school. Not just any high school, but a new one, 3000 miles away from his former home. DH and I had to scramble to get this kid stabilized. It was no picnic. His freshman year had a lot of rough patches. It took awhile to get his ADD meds stabilized. His report cards weren't great; C's, D's and an occasional F. His manners were more than rough: he literally did not know how to use silverware when he came to live with us. I kid you not; this kid was used to eating out of a paper bag from the local Drive-Thru du Jour every night. His personal hygiene habits were non-existent. His mother raised him with what I call an "electric fence" method of discipline. RockStar was never made privy to the rules of the house by his mother; if he did something wrong, he got yelled at. Hence, we had one nervous, twitchy kid move into our house, flinching at every turn.

DH contacted Human Resources at his office, and they helped get RockStar hooked up with an excellent counselor specializing in adolescent males. Fortunately, they hit it off right away (although we were fully prepared to keep shopping therapists until we found the right "fit"). RockStar now had a neutral sounding board to work out some very troubling issues. His physician worked with him to get his Ritalin dosage stabilized.

DH, RockStar and I discussed everything as a family. RockStar was allowed to express himself freely at these confabs. He learned that occasionally we were willing to concede on some issues (i.e., growing his hair long, as long as it's kept clean). This empowered him and made him feel he has some say in family operations. He's still a kid, though, and has screwed up on some things (see November 5th's post for story of the Great Flood). DH and I meted out discipline which was appropriate to the offense and was spelled out very clearly. For the first time in his life, he's learned that there are reasonable expectations placed upon him concerning his grades, his personal conduct, hygiene, and treatment of others within the family. But the most important thing that was established in this kid's life was consistency. He'd never had that, ever. The powder keg was slowly being defused.

Fast forward to present: RockStar's last report card, two weeks ago, featured 5 B's and an A. He is performing 10 classical guitar songs at his first recital in March. He can use tableware properly, and although he still has to be reminded to use a napkin (and not his pants) to wipe his hands, his manners have entered the realm of a normal, slightly sloppy teenager. He doesn't flinch every time his dad or I say, "Sit down, we need to talk to you about something." He's a good kid with a mature-beyond-his-years, sardonic sense of humor. He's still a work-in-progress, and with the immediate crisis over, DH and I feel we can finally turn one eye (well, maybe half-an-eye) away from him.

So the kid is happy, where does that leave his stepmom? About 56 pounds overweight. Fifty-six pounds of meals on the run; late night snacks of buttered toast; too many snacks in general. Too much sugared soda, too much chocolate. Too much, period. Damn, what happened? Life happened, that's what.

And it had to happen exactly the way it did. DH and I had a child in crisis; our needs were second (third, fourth, fifth) to healing this kid's pain and getting him turned around.

But I was also royally pissed off. At myself. At the fix I was in. At the knowledge that I was looking at up to one year of ass-kicking work to lose the weight (again) and get back to normal.

So it's happening, the diet's working, the weight's coming off, it's all good, blah, blah, blah. And I can't help thinking, is this going to happen again? Am I going to find myself at the tail end of another crisis, lugging around a bunch of excess weight and going "Wha?" I'd like to think that I learned this lesson real good, and history won't be repeating itself. But we'll just have to see, won't we?

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Impromptu Stitch 'n Bitch at Michaels
I went to Michael's last night to take advantage of a sale on Lion Brand Fun Fur ($3.77, reg. $4.99 per skein). Clustered around the Fun Fur display was myself (41), a woman of about 50, another woman of about 70, and a young woman of about 22 years old. It was Fur-tastic: We compared Fun Fur colors, talked about past projects using Fun Fur, showed each other possible combinations of Fun Fur with other yarns, and just talked knitting in general. We split up and drifted off down the other aisles, and found ourselves drifting back to the Fun Fur selection several more times. I found some Bernat Boa eyelash yarn two aisles over and alerted my shopping buddies to that. Earnest comparison between the Fun Fur (on sale) and the Boa (not on sale) ensued. We found a stash of more Fun Fur on the highest storage shelf near the store's ceiling, and used a 4-foot long tube of counted cross-stitch canvas to prod down packages of colors we didn't see on the shelves.

But I think the best part was when the young woman pulled a copy of Stitch 'n Bitch out of her purse. It had been given to her by a friend for Christmas, and she had taught herself to knit from it. She'd made the Hot Head watchcap from it ("but not in these colors, I made some changes"), and had her eye on the To Dye For fuzzy sweater as her second project. Obviously an intuitive knitter in the making. Whenever I hear a new knitter say they knitted a (hat, sweater, scarf) "but changed A, B & C," I know they're going to be just fine. That young woman could have been me 20 years ago, leafing through the latest Fashion Knitting and cruising the aisles at Super Yarn Mart, trying to find a substitute for the Anny Blatt yarn I’d been lusting after.

Unfortunately, we couldn't find a fuzzy yarn that would work in gauge needed for her sweater. We continued chatting about knitting. Her enthusiasm was so sweet. I asked her if she'd looked up any knit blogs on the web. She said, "Yeah! I've heard about those!" and immediately turned to the section in her very dog-eared copy of SnB explaining Online Knit Journals and showed it to me. She said, "Some of my friends have this same book, but had trouble learning from it. I didn't have any trouble, except a little with increases and decreases. But some people have to be shown new things." I said, "Well, then you need to pass your new skills on to someone by showing them." She smiled and said she definitely would. I left Michaels, secure in the knowledge that knitting's gonna be around for a long, long time.

Here's my Michael's haul:

3 Fun Furs, 3 Boas, 3 Free Patterns!

Isn't Boa Pretty?

Boa Patterns: Jeans Jacket Collar 'n Cuffs, and Another Keyhole Scarf

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, February 09, 2004

Started one of the sleeves on the Navy Upside Downer for my nephew:

And finished another Fuzzy Keyhole Scarf. This one is Lion Brand's Fun Fur, in Champagne:

I Have No Excuse for This Behavior
When I shop by myself, I'm apt to fall into a kind of fugue state. The symptoms are eerily similar to reported accounts of persons believing aliens abducted them: I literally "lose time." I can wander quite contentedly for hours in large chain stores like Target and WalMart. My husband doesn't like it when I do this; I tend to fill up my little basket with junk I don't need, often to the tune of $50 or more. Case in point: Wandering around WalMart one night last week, I smelled a very yummy scent right at nose level. What was it, you ask? Why, a bottle of Mary-Kate & Ashley Styling Hair Texturizer! The scent was intoxicating: Cotton candy with coconut overtones. Into the basket it went! Yes, I, a soon-to-be-42-year-old woman, supported the Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen Juggernaut. I have no excuse. Sometimes you just gotta have cotton candy 'n coconut hair texturizer.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Friday, February 06, 2004

A New Day, a New Scarf
Our graphic design department has a weekly Breakfast Meeting, held on Friday mornings. We usually scarf up yummy doughnuts or somesuch item. Since I can't (won't) indulge, I thought my scarfing should be in the form of knitting another Fuzzy Keyhole Scarf. Fondle Fiber: Good. Fondle Doughnuts: Bad.

The knitting needles are my grandmother's, from the early '60s

Things I Want to Ask God When I Go to Heaven
Of course, my No. 1 Question is, and always will be, "Why do men have nipples?" After that, it's "Why do women's thighs rub together, despite repeated applications of diet and exercise?" I'm serious. The only time my thighs haven't rubbed together to some degree was during a brief period of anorexia at age 18 (it didn't last long; I quickly realized how stupid and time-consuming, not to mention unhealthy, anorexia is). I'm sure that God in his infinite wisdom has a perfectly good reason why he engineered women this way. It can't be strictly to drive us crazy. Yes, he has a sense of humor, but I don't believe it's a malicious one.

Perhaps there are practical reasons for this thigh swishage. Maybe it's a security measure of sorts for pregnant women, to prevent delivery until the appropriate time? Newspaper headline: "Scientists Discover Babies Kept in Place for 9 Months Due to Mother's Thigh Rubbage" Or, perhaps it's an early warning system to others of the human species. Your kids or coworkers, for instance: "Knock it off! I hear Mom coming down the hall!" (swish, swish) or "Shhh! Stop talking about Amy! I hear her coming!" (swish, swish)

Happy Friday, everyone.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Spin Me a Yarn, Tell Me a Tale
A tale of upcoming knitting fun! Mr. Postman delivered some goodies over the last few days:

Mmmm-mmmm Good!

In front, Lion Brand WoolEase in Mushroom (from Lion Brand). In back, 2 skeins of Schoeller Esslinger Geisha in Blue Cloud and Roma Tomato, respectively (from Elann).

The WoolEase is earmarked for Ridgeway Lite, for my brother. But the tomato-red Geisha, an acrylic/mohair mix, is slated for this:

Here Comes the Fuzz!

Years ago, I had a tomato red mohair sweater that I knit from a very similar yarn. It had a super-deep cowl neck, very exaggerated raglan shaping, dolman sleeves, and an 8" fitted, ribbed waistband. This sweater disappeared in a wardrobe purge many years ago, and I've regretted getting rid of it ever since. The Schachenmayr pattern is the closest thing I've found to the original. I haven't decided if I want to recreate the ribbed waistband on this new, updated version.

The blue mohair is headed for the stash. It was too good a buy not to indulge in a little extra!

Aran Poncho Redux
I finally got a shot of the Aran Poncho before I wrapped it up to send to my sister in Portland:

Bye Bye, Poncho!

I know she'll get a lot more use out of it than I ever would. Also in the package is the Pink Fiesta Upside Downer for my niece. Stealth gifting for the girls!

From the Mouths of Babes, or, Kids Say the Darndest Things
The Scene: Dinnertime at Chez Yarnover's former location, a tumbledown beach house in LaJolla. The Time: About 9 years ago. In Attendance: Myself, dear departed MIL, and RockStar-at-Age-6. The Menu: Macaroni & Cheese. RockStar has just finished a good-sized portion. It's one of his very favorite dishes. He leans back in his chair, surveys his surroundings, heaves a contented sigh, and says, "I'm sure glad I'm not lactose-intolerant!" Me too, big guy, me too.

Happy Wednesday, everyone.

Monday, February 02, 2004

I've Been Remiss
... in my blogging duties! The wheels sorta fell off the bus last week, and for that I apologize. I'm still working on the Cable Hoodie, but have put it aside briefly to work on another Upside Downer pullover. This one is for my 7yo nephew, and I'm making it out of Wool-Ease in the Tartan Twist shade. I stated in an earlier post that this shade was discontinued, which is incorrect. I saw it recently on Lion Brand's website, and it is still a current shade. It's a little hard to photograph because it's so dark, but I gave it a shot:

Pardon My Messy Light Table!

I'm about 1" away from the waistband ribbing. I'm making the sweater in a kid's size 12 since nephew is a big kid for 7. His parents are both tall; my brother is 6'1" and his wife is 5'11". They're both blond and good looking; their 3 kids are all blond and good looking. They look like could step right into an Eddie Baurer or L.L. Bean catalog. DH and I call them The Blond Family.

A Weighty Subject Continues
It's official. On Saturday, I reached the halfway point of my Medifast weight loss journey, at 33lbs lost. I want to take a 1-day break, but I think I'll keep going while the momentum is there. I took a 1-day break during Week 5 (the week showing the "0" loss), and it stalled my progress for an entire week. It's not so much a morale thing -- it's a cost thing. This diet is effective, but it ain't cheap, so I don't want to waste any money just to satisfy a doughnut or pasta craving. Capisci?

Word to the Wise
If you wanna revive a fading career, engineer a wardrobe malfunction. Works every time.

Happy Monday, everyone.